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Becoming Intellectual: The Blogestan and Public Political Space in the Islamic Republic

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Abstract:

This chapter seeks to interrogate the possibility that the blogosphere is a significant space for a range of intellectual voices inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. The paper critiques naïve arguments that the blogosphere is totally oppositional by examining some of the religious discourses of 'embedded intellectuals'. But it also critiques the idea that Iranian intellectual life must be examined solely through the prism of Islam. We explore how more critical voices have gravitated to the web in the absence of other sites for engagement with the regime. Using Gramsci's notion of oppositional intellectuals, coupled with Mouffe's argument about political space, we explore the emergent voices of women as well as the range of mundane economic issues being articulated through blogs and websites. Hence we suggest that Iranian virtual politics is quite robust, for the moment, even while under the censor's gaze. All men (sic) are intellectuals but not all men have in society the function of intellectuals (A. Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, 1971)

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13530190701388291

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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